2022 U.S. Chess & Women’s Chess Championship - Day 2 Recap


by NM Vanessa West

The youngest players in each section, 12-year-old Alice Lee and 15-year-old Christopher Yoo, scored key upsets in Round 2 of the U.S. Chess & U.S. Women’s Chess Championships. Yoo defeated reigning champion GM Wesley So while Lee defeated WGM Begim Tokhirjonova to reach 2-0. 

Check out the full replay of live coverage from the day here. The time control for the event is 90 minutes for 40 moves plus 30 minutes for the rest of the game; with a 30-second increment starting from move 1.

U.S. Championship - Standings after Round 2

U.S. Women’s Championship - Standings after Round 2

2022 U.S. Championship

GM Wesley So vs. GM Christopher Yoo 0-1

Teenage grandmaster Christopher Yoo, reached a pivotal moment in his game against the reigning U.S. Champion, GM Wesley So. Yoo felt that had an advantage but was uncertain of how to utilize it. On move 37, the opportunity for a three-time repetition draw appeared on the board. The young competitor pondered his options against the fifth highest ranked player in history for half an hour. With only two minutes left on his clock, he decided to play for the win. 

With 37…Re8!? Yoo declines the repetition draw (The players had already repeated with 35…Rg3 36.Qh2 Rh3 37. Qg2) and soon brings his rook to the commanding e3-outpost after 38.Ne2 Re3. | 0-1, 48 moves

In his post-game interview Yoo explained his crucial decision to play on that led to his eventual victory, “I just went for it. I had to trust myself.”  | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

GM Elshan Mordiabadi vs. GM Awonder Liang 1-0

The lowest seed in the tournament, GM Elshan Mordiabadi, scored his first victory against the wild card GM Awonder Liang, fighting off Black’s center play in the Ruy Lopez. 

Nineteen-year-old Awonder attempted to activate his pieces with the 14…c5 break, but Elshan responded accurately with 15.dxc4 Nc5 16.Bxf6 Bxf6 17.a5!? and soon emerged with powerful passed pawns on the queenside. | 1-0, 61 moves

Mordiabadi bounced back from a tough loss yesterday with a victory today. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

After balanced battles, the rest of the games ended in draws. 

2022 U.S. Women’s Championship

FM Alice Lee vs. WGM Begim Tokhirjonova 1-0

After trading into a double rook and bishop position, both players fought for the advantage, each claiming a stake in the center and doubling their rooks on the only open files. Tokhirjonova activated her king ambitiously, but Lee set up a near mating net in response, forcing Tokhirjonova to give up a bishop to avoid checkmate. 

With 35.Bf8! Lee threatens R1c5# and Gulrukhbegim soon has to give up material to avoid checkmate. The game continued 35…Ke5 36.Rxc5+ R3d5 37.Rxd5 Rxd5 38.Rc7 with the dual threats of Rxf7 and Re7+, forcing the black king to d6 where it would be vulnerable to a discovered attack. | 1-0, 58 moves

Twelve-year-old Alice Lee is one of the U.S. Women’s tournament leaders on 2-0 | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

IM Nazi Paikidze vs. WIM Megan Lee 0-1

WIM Megan Lee scored a 28-move upset victory vs. former U.S. Women’s Champion, IM Nazi Paikidze. 

With 18…Nxe5 Lee wins a critical center pawn due to the upcoming pin on the e-file. The game continued: 19.Bxe5 Bf6 20.f4 d6 21.0-0 dxe5 22.Rfe1 e4 when Black was a protected passed pawn ahead. | 0-1, 28 moves

Megan Lee also leads the event with 2-0 | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

WGM Jennifer Yu vs. FM Ruiyang Yan 1-0 

After Yan sacrificed a pawn for activity, Yu pushed her opponent’s pieces back while maintaining her material edge. Eventually, Yu won a second pawn and converted in the ending. 

With 21.Nxd5!?, Yu bravely captures the extra pawn despite landing her knight in a pin. The game continued: 21…Bxd5 22.Rxd5 g6 23.Qd1 Rxd5 24.Qxd5 Rd8 25.Qb5 Rd2 26.Rf1 when Yu had to carefully defend the weak points of her position and gradually take advantage of her material. | 1-0, 46 moves

Yu joins the leaders with a perfect score so far. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

FM Rochelle Wu vs. FM Ashritha Eswaran 1-0

FM Rochelle Wu recovered from yesterday’s loss with a victory against FM Ashritha Eswaran today while the other games ended in hard-fought draws. 

Round 3 of the 2022 U.S. & U.S. Women's Chess Championships will take place tomorrow, October 7. Watch the action live at 1:20pm CT with commentators GM Yasser Seirawan, WGM Anastasiya Karlovich, and GM Cristian Chirila on uschesschamps.com and on the Saint Louis Chess Club’s YouTube and Twitch.tv channels.